Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Best Service is No Service

There is a new book on the market with the title shown above; namely, "The Best Service is No Service" published by Josse-Bass. It was written by Bill Price, former VP of global customer service at, Inc. and David Jaffe, a consultant. Their premise is that the size of a customer service organization is inversely proportional to the quality of the product or service provided by the company. So, the lower the quality of the product, the more customer service personnel you need and the higher the quality the fewer customer service personnel you need. Sounds pretty obvious to me.

They discuss a metric not often used by customer service organizations, they suggest using the contacts per customer order (CPO). Their idea is to reduce the number of contacts per customer order. Mr. Price points out that Amazon has reduced its CPO by 90% over the last 5 years.

The authors note the four causes for customer contact.
1. "It doesn't work" creates about 1 in 7 contacts.
2. "How do I ..." questions create about 1 in 4 contacts.
3. "Where can I get..." questions create about 40% of the contacts.
4. The final 20% of contacts are customers who want to buy stuff.

The authors suggest that if you reduce the number of contacts for the first 80% of the contacts (the correction side), there will be more time to spend on the remaining 20% of customers who are there to buy. While the book sounds simple it is most likely a quality nightmare - but with a great payoff.

The bottom line is that the title of the book rings a bell to wake up those leaders in the customer service business to create a metric that may ultimately transform the activities of customer service into higher profits and higher customer loyalty.

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